Sunday, 8 January 2017

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump

This painting from Joseph Wright of Derby , in 1768 impressed me a lot. It is exposed in National Gallery of London.It has a combination of light and human drama that is unusual.
A scientist shows the formation of a vacuum by withdrawing air from a flask containing a white cockatoo. Air pumps were developed in the 17th century.
The bird will die if the demonstrator continues to deprive it of oxygen, and Wright leaves us in doubt as to whether or not the cockatoo will die. The painting reveals a wide range of individual reactions, from the frightened children, through the reflective philosopher, the excited interest of the youth on the left, to the indifferent young lovers concerned only with each other. 

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